The people of Gyerkiti in the Eastern Region have their Assemblyman, Seth Asare to thank for as his personal car is always on standby which the entire community improvises as an ambulance to transport emergency health cases to nearby health facilities.
With no health center in the entire community, the about 1500 people living in Gyerkiti are at risk of health-related complications.
The situation is particularly dicey for pregnant women who must answer the call of nature in the middle of the night as the community cannot even boast of basic healthcare facilities to rely on.
This is according to residents of the community trapped on the other side of a bumpy road network with no access to healthcare.
To ease the healthcare needs of the people, a sod-cutting ceremony was performed in the latter parts of 2019 for the construction of a health center and accommodation facilities by the Ministry of Health for health personnel with the contractor moving to site sometime in 2020.
However, works on the project have stalled along the line for inexplicable reasons.
Pregnant women, the worst affected continue to risk their lives in the middle of the night, sometimes delivering in vehicles because they have to travel 3 kilometers to nearby Adjena or about 17 kilometers to the District capital, Akosombo to access healthcare.
Under such situations, the only available help is the Assemblyman who must provide his personal car to be used as an ambulance and driver at the same time.
One of such victims, a 37-year-old nursing mother, Yaa Ankomah spoke to GhanaWeb. She recalled how the pangs of labour in the middle of the night forced her to call the Assemblyman to send her to Adjena for delivery.
“Labour called at 3am and I did not have anyone to send me to the hospital. There was no one to turn to so I called the Assemblyman so he was the one who sent me to the health center. But for the Assemblyman, I wouldn’t have known my fate that night.
“Due to the absence of a healthcare facility, people risk losing their lives during emergency health complications,” she said.
Ama Kunama is 58 years and has lived all her life in Gyerkiti. She said there had been avoidable deaths in the area as a result of the absence of a healthcare center and an ambulance.
“We suffer when we fall sick. Sudden deaths are rampant over here and this wouldn’t be happening if we had a standby ambulance or a healthcare center here. But because there is none, people usually lose their lives before a vehicle could arrive to convey them to hospital.”
Sakyibea Rita, also a nursing mother, who has spent about 25 years in the community, also shared her experience. She said “I was pregnant and when my delivery was due, because of the absence of a clinic, it was God, when I was taken to Akosombo, I was put on oxygen because we delayed in reaching there.
“When someone is sick or due for labour and it’s not Akosombo, then it becomes difficult. By the time the person realizes, they are dead and this happens all the time.”
Mmrantehene (youth leader) of Gyerkiti, Kojo Adjei also said, “The lack of a healthcare center here is a big problem, especially to our women. Many have lost their lives due to this. Even when someone suffering from Malaria and must be treated at a clinic here, such a person could die before you reach Akosombo.”
Assemblyman for the area, Seth Ofori who spoke to GhanaWeb’s Michael Oberteye, regretted that works on the project have stalled at the foundation level and yet to resume.
“For all these years, Gyerkiti has existed without a health facility but fortunately for us somehow, last year the Ministry of Health through the [Asuogyaman] District Assembly, started a health facility but along the line, everything went to a halt,” said Seth Ofori, adding that efforts to enquire about the status of the project was usually met with assurances to complete it.
“When you call on the contractor, he will say, I’ll be there, next week, next month, all because of [lack of] funds so we’re pleading with government and key stakeholders to aid the contractor get enough funds to come and complete this facility for us.”
He said he had to bear with emergency calls deep in the night, mostly from pregnant women whose times were due and required medical attention.
According to him, others who could not hold on, delivered in his vehicle.
“As an Assembly member, in the night, somewhere around 2:00am, I’d be called upon to help people with my car to Adjena and Akosombo. We rush people from Gyerkiti all the way to Akosombo, the pregnant women, the aged, a lot of cases, we rush them,” said the Assemblyman who said some unlucky ones died in the process.
The people are therefore appealing to government for an intervention in their healthcare system.